The Grand Bazaar

Regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world, The Grand Bazaar is the largest and oldest covered markets in the world making it among the most-visited tourist attractions is the world

Istanbul, Turkey

Coordinates: 41.010600, 28.967900

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 meter square, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

In 2014, it was listed No.1 among the world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors.

The Grand Bazaar is located inside the Walled city of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighbourhood (mahalle) bearing the same name (Kapalıçarşı).

It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams.

Today the Grand Bazaar is a thriving complex, employing 26,000 people visited by between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily, and one of the major landmarks of Istanbul.

It must compete with modern shopping malls common in Istanbul, but its beauty and fascination represent a formidable advantage for it.

Istanbul’s historic Grand Bazaar resembles a living museum with its more than 550 years of history, thousands of daily visitors and shops offering both traditional and modern goods. It is not only Istanbul’s but one of Turkey’s most significant cultural and historic tourist attractions.

The Grand Bazaar was built in 1461 as one of the most important projects of the Ottoman Empire’s economy following the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmed II.

As a site for multidirectional and effective competition for the whole empire, the Grand Bazaar was built as a means for Sultan Mehmed II to create income to support construction in Hagia Sophia Mosque.

The bazaar has 60 covered streets, each bearing the name of sellers of a particular good, such as Altuncular (gold sellers), Basmacılar (printed cloth sellers), Fesçiler (tarboosh sellers) and İplikçiler (yarn sellers).

The Grand Bazaar is surmounted by brick roofs and domes and has 22 gates and 29 inns.

It has experienced more than 20 fires and several earthquakes between Nov. 20, 1651 to Nov. 26, 1954 and took its current form through the restoration following the earthquake of 1894.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Istanbul, the bazaar hosts many shops selling a wide variety of goods, including carpets, bags, textile goods, gold and silver jewelry, antiques, glazed tiles and souvenirs. It also has a number of places that offer refreshment.

If you are up to the hustle and bustle of this multifaceted market, then by all means pay it a visit. You can’t go to Istanbul without at least having a glimpse at one of the oldest covered markets in the world. The variety of the goods on offer is simply staggering. Beware of tourist traps and some overpriced goods, otherwise well worth a visit!

Know This

The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.